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tv   Frontline  PBS  November 17, 2009 10:00pm-10:46pm EST

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>> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. with additional funding from the park foundation. committed to building public awareness. major funding for frontline and frontline world is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. frontline world is made possible by shell, supporting people of the press... >> as you can see, people are gathering around. >> ...and the independent journalists... >> how do you respond to these charges? >> ...who tell the stories of our time. and by the skoll foundation.
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with additional funding from scott fearon. >> in the aftermath of iran's disputed election... >> who was neda? why was she killed? >> a young woman's brutal murder... >> look at this girl, she is vomiting blood. >> was uploaded to the world. >> you think to yourself, "i could be her." >> tonight, the inside story of neda agha soltan's life... >> neda always said she would leave iran if she had only one day left of her life. >> and the tragic events that led to her death. >> he basically said that "i'm giving you the green light for you to kill them. just get rid of these people who are on the streets."
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>> and later, a story from frontline world. in uganda, new dangerous viruses that can jump back and forth between humans and the great apes. >> you can't protect the gorillas if you don't think about the people living around the park who have very little health care. >> narrator: this is the street in central tehran where neda agha soltan was shot this summer. three months later, our cameraman risked arrest to film the place where she died.
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he looks for a splotch of green paint on the road, a sign of the protest movement that filled these streets in june. to keep her name alive, protesters graffiti the walls, but the authorities keep whitewashing it out. from the beginning, it's been a story the regime could not suppress. >> i'm going to show you a clip now. this is disturbing, i want everyone to know that. but, uh... we have blurred out her face out of respect. but this is possibly the most seen piece of video out of iran in the world. >> narrator: a 90-second camera phone video had set off the firestorm. >> we cannot confirm the situation, nor her name. ( yelling ) >> ( translated ) that look still challenges me. it's with me all the time. i can't forget it.
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the blood that gushed out of her mouth and chest, that's always with me. ( yelling ) >> i mean, seeing that, outside of iran, it's scary. but when you were actually there, and you think to yourself, "i could be her." >> ...a story that she had been a bystander at a protest. >> what does that mean? is there an investigation? what have you learned? what happened to neda? >> ( translated ) now, let's see what... what happened. >> narrator: even months later, the regime was being pressed to explain it. >> ( translated ) it is indeed regrettable. i'm very sorry that one of our fellow citizens was killed, especially a person who wasn't... i mean, she was not especially... she was not a person... she was not in a protest.... >> narrator: ultimately, both sides would try to claim neda as a martyr for their cause.
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but how this ordinary tehrani girl became such a threat to the regime has been a story much harder to tell. it turns out that neda was deeply dissatisfied with life in the islamic republic, and toward the end of her life, she was trying to get away. her sister hoda wrote to us from tehran. >> ( translated ) she used to say, as we all do and know, that there's a dead, depressing air all over iran. it's everywhere, it's in people's hearts. we are condemned to depression. we are condemned to living without being able to breathe. >> narrator: the story of neda's death starts with the june 2009 presidential election.
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among neda's friends, skepticism ran high that they could unseat president ahmadinejad. but then came the country's first-ever televised debates. over the course of the night, the president was put on the defensive. >> ( translated ) he says, "why don you call me a dictator?" well, i did not say you are a dictator, but your method definitely leads to dictatorship. >> narrator: opposition leader mir hossein moussavi gained massive support, and those who wanted change felt new hope, among them, neda's friend, delbar tavakoli. >> ( translated ) i always thought boycotting the election was like saying, "no." this time, i had a different feeling. i was encouraging everybody to vote, either for karroubi or moussavi, it didn't matter. neda wasn't a moussavi supporter. it was a voice of protest, not
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in support of a particular candidate, but everyone's voice of protest. >> narrator: as a new opposition movement surged around moussavi, this was no longer the election foreign journalists, like scott peterson, had been let in to cover. >> tens of thousands of people on the streets for their candidate, and for both candidates, in fact. it was an extraordinary build-up to the election. >> whoo! >> narrator: but for the reformists, thoughts of victory gave way to new fears. >> just a few days before the vote, there was a rumor that swept the text messaging system, and that was that ahmadinejad's people had imported two million pens with disappearing ink. and, of course, the point was that all of these people who would turn out to vote for moussavi, their votes would be nullified because, within an hour or two, that mark would disappear and, therefore, it
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wouldn't matter. so, just something like that-- a rumor which is fed by text messages-- meant that almost every single voter that i saw on voting day was carrying their own pen. >> narrator: election day, june 12. both sides turned out in force, even those who'd stayed away before. >> ( translated ) i took my id card with full enthusiasm and went and voted. by the evening, when i found out one of my friends hadn't voted, i took her to the ballot box myself and made her vote. >> narrator: but government interference at the polls discouraged opposition voters. neda's sister told us neda was among them. >> neda went to a couple of polling stations and was told that neither moussavi or karoubi's representatives were present.
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she tried to vote but wasn't able to. >> narrator: opposition supporters said they couldn't trust the officials manning the polling stations. more alarming were the government paramilitaries called basijis, who now had been mobilized. >> narrator: late afternoon of election day, the basiji militia struck, entering moussavi headquarters. >> narrator: an eyewitness filmed on a camera phone as police tried to remove the basiji. but they announced they had orders to shut down the office. then, a few hours later, another blow to the opposition-- state media's surprisingly early announcement of a winner. >> the first reports, in fact,
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came from fars news, which put up an initial story saying what actual results were, and it was well ahead of its time. obviously, it had been prepared in advance, and it wasn't long before it disappeared, but we had this initial statement that ahmadinejad was doing very, very well. >> narrator: but across tehran, the opposition was projecting its own victory. >> narrator: in the confusion, focus fell on the interior ministry, where the votes were supposed to be counted. >> it was probably around 10:00, and still some of the polling stations were not yet closed, but we were surprised to see that right there where the ministry of interior building is, which is of course where they were going to do all the voting and tabulations for this election. they sealed it off with concrete. there were three layers of police cars that were also lined up, and then riot police had been marshaled behind that.
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>> narrator: what went on inside the interior ministry that night, and whether the votes were fully counted, remains unclear. but outside, for supporters of president ahmadinejad, the election seemed to be over. ( crowd cheers ) the next morning, the official results were broadcast to the world. >> the iranian interior minister said the election procedures are very clear, and the government's abided by law in all voting stages. >> ( translated ) somehow, that day felt like the end of everything. and the worst feeling was that i had unwittingly helped them gain that legitimacy. >> narrator: much was made of ahmadinejad's margin of victory. >> ahmadinejad broke the 1997 record of former president
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mohamad khatami, who got... >> narrator: 63% was exactly the figure leaked the previous night before the polls had closed. >> meanwhile, mir hossein moussavi has strongly protested the vote, calling it a charade. >> narrator: one reporter from press tv, iran's state english-language station, was shocked at her channel's reports. >> so my colleague calls, and he said, like, "why aren't you at work?" and i just said, "i'm not coming to work." and he said, "uh, wow, well, maybe you can come tomorrow, maybe we can get someone else to do the show today." i'm like, "no, i am really not coming to work anymore, because i am not happy with the coverage of this network. i don't... i cannot do this." >> narrator: faranak quit state tv in protest, and took to the streets. ( crowd chanting ) >> the crowd was getting bigger and bigger. people from the shops, they just shut down their stores and
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joined the crowd. and there were people on the buildings going like this, behind the windows and stuff, and... or they would come down. and there were, like, all these old ladies. we were crying. we were, like, "yeah, go, go girl!" and then, all of a sudden, this caravan of motorbikes just got into the crowd and started beating people. ( yelling ) >> narrator: a special unit of riot police had been dispatched, trying to take back the streets. ( screaming ) protestors now tried to film everything on their camera phones... a sophisticated new form of resistance.
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neda's sister tells us neda was part of the protest. >> ( translated ) neda went to every single demo, all of them. it was during one of those protests that a woman in black chador came up to her and said, "my girl, why don't you dress a little bit more conservatively for these demos? because i know these animals. they have real psychological issues and usually go after the beautiful ones, and you are a really pretty girl." ( yelling ) >> we were a few girls, and we thought that if we stand on the front line and start throwing stones, you know, the police would be more hesitant to shoot at a girl or beat a girl. little did we know that we would be the first people to get
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actually attacked. ( screaming ) >> all of a sudden, i just felt something in my knee. it was so painful, that i just blacked out, i passed out. >> narrator: faranak had been shot in the leg with a plastic bullet. >> the hospital was packed with the injured. i mean, i saw things... it was so disturbing, i couldn't stop crying. and then, i thought that, you know, all these people were going to die in front of me. it was so bad. then, my uncle's friend just left me. and then, some basijis attacked the er of the hospital, and these people are, like, screaming and running away. it was so bad. they were with sticks. they actually wanted to hit people who were laying down on the ground, on the floor, because there wasn't even enough space.
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>> i think the regime has been preparing for this for several years, in fact. and i think that we saw the first sign of it back in september 2007, when the new revolutionary guard commander announced, to the surprise of many iranians, in fact, that their biggest threat now was no longer the great satan, the united states, it was no longer external threats. but that the biggest threat to the regime, really, was coming from inside iran. >> narrator: its legitimacy now in question, the regime brought out its loyalists. it was an impressive show of strength for a president who claimed overwhelming support, and dismissed the protestors as "dirt and dust." >> ahmadinejad is a blacksmiths' son, and he is, at heart, a socialist. he wanted to be able to help the people, and so an awful lot of people, you know, voted for him.
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it's perfectly natural. ( cheers ) >> narrator: nader mokhtari is a columnist for a hard-line newspaper who blames the violence on opposition leader moussavi. >> if he had not said the election had been rigged, without any evidence, substantial evidence, none of this would have happened. that's rabble rousing. we're not going to give up iran because mr. moussavi has lied we will not give up iran, because we paid such a heavy price to have it, and this is the voice of the majority of iranians. >> narrator: it was turning into a war of numbers. the opposition fought back with a massive demonstration through the heart of tehran, the largest since the 1979 revolution, a fact not lost on a former revolutionary elite who's turned against the regime.
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>> what they don't want to accept, they don't want to understand-- this is the people of iran. like the islamic revolution, that was the people of iran, as well, like the constitution revolution. this is the majority of the people who wants freedom, who wants democracy, wants human rights. >> narrator: mohsen sazegara was watching events unfold on the internet, along with millions of other iranians abroad, and posting his own messages of support. >> this is the generation of internet. this is the generation of globalization era. this is the generation which doesn't believe in revolutionary ideology anymore. they want to live like the other young people in other countries. they prefer to be international, to have no, you know, conflict with any country.
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maybe they want secularism, they don't like the islamic regime anymore, a religious regime anymore. >> narrator: somewhere in the crowd was neda, along with her new boyfriend, caspian makan. >> ( translated ) there were seven or eight of us in the crowd. we were a bit tired. we sat down to have a rest, and there, for a second, i saw them together. i was really struck to see them there. i realized then this had engulfed all the population, because i knew caspian was not political. >> narrator: so far that day, the protests had been largely peaceful. but outside a basiji militia station, a clash with protestors was becoming violent.
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>> a bunch of people just broke away from the main demonstration of people who were asking for reform and started attacking this station at the 117th basij station, a volunteer-force station, with molotov cocktails and tried to set it alight. ( gunshots ) ( screaming ) you imagine someone trying to set fire to a military base in the middle of london. you know, you can imagine the reaction from the security forces. >> narrator: the regime now felt justified using live rounds... ( screaming ) ( gunshot ) ...and the country was thrown into even greater uncertainty and chaos.
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( gunshots ) ( screaming ) >> narrator: this is when, on june 19, at nationally televised friday prayers, the nation looked to supreme leader ayatollah khamanei to declare himself about the disputed election. >> i think that was the first friday prayers that i actually sat down and watched, all of my life. i think everybody in iran watched that friday prayer. >> he had a good opportunity on that friday to solve the problem. to say, "okay, i heard, whatever you want," but he missed that opportunity. >> narrator: instead, he
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delivered an ultimatum to the protestors. ( crowd chanting ) >> he basically... he basically said that "i'm giving you the green light to shoot people, to kill them. just get rid of these people who are on the streets." and we all knew that if we didn't go out saturday and protest, this movement would just die out, all right? and it was amazing how everybody came out on saturday again. i mean, i was one of them. and i was scared. i mean, i had never been this scared in my life. >> ( translated ) neda didn't sleep at all the night before
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the horrific day. my mom pleaded with her not to go out. my mom was really worried. but neda said, "if i don't go, and others like me don't go, then who's going to go?" she told mom that she'd try to keep in contact as much as possible to let us know she's okay. >> narrator: that morning, the basijis were out in force. >> the day was a really determining day, because we knew that something was going to happen. after khamanei's remarks, we knew that he had allowed his guards to open fire on the crowd. >> narrator: arash hejazi had trained as a doctor, but given
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up medicine to start a publishing company. he and his colleagues had all come into work that day. >> and i explicitly forced my colleagues that, today, nobody is going out. nobody will go out today because it's extremely dangerous. so, all of a sudden, everybody stood up and said, "we don't care." so they decided to go out. and i said, "okay, so if you are going out, i'll come with you because i want to make sure that you do nothing stupid." by phone, we heard that there were things going on, people were in the streets shouting, "death to dictator." and the shouts were very high. ( gunshots ) >> narrator: basijis had begun to open fire on protestors. ( gunshots )
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remarkably, neda was caught on camera approaching the protests. she is seen beside her music teacher, a gray-haired man in a blue-striped shirt. >> neda was among the crowd, was standing there among the crowd where... in front of the riot police. she was there with an older man, and she was very close to us, so i noticed her. sometimes, she shouted, "death to dictator" or something, and her music teacher was trying to convince her that she should stay back, while she didn't, really. she was very curious.
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>> she called twice to say everywhere was full of special forces. she said there were many of them. she said it was very dangerous. my mom begged her to come back. she said that she would come back, and started heading back towards the car. ( crowd chanting ) >> and when we moved back into the alley, she and her music teacher started walking with us towards the end of the alley, ten to 15 minutes before she was shot. ( crowd chanting ) >> her uncle was the last person who spoke to neda. she told him that she was near her car and would get back soon. but she never got to her car.
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>> narrator: this video taken on the street where neda died shows basijis passing by on motorbikes and protestors throwing rocks late in the day. ( gunshot ) >> that was when we hear the blast and... from in front of us. and i... everybody was just a bit shocked. i asked, "what was that? was it a gunshot?" another friend, all of a sudden, told me that "look at this girl, she's vomiting blood." and i saw that she wasn't vomiting blood, it was blood gushing out of her chest. >> narrator: dr. hejazi tried to stop the bleeding, but it was too late. ( yelling ) ( crying )
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>> the extent of the blood bleeding, and the pressure of the bleeding, indicated instantly to me that her aorta was shot. and her lung, as well, because the blood had been flowing to her nose and mouth as well, so her lung was shot as well, and she died very quickly. then, i realized that a crowd was pulling someone towards us, and that person was shouting that "i didn't want to kill her". and the shouts... and the people were starting to beat him, and they took off his clothes and his shirt. ( yelling ) and they started discussing what
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to do with him. they searched his body, they took out his wallet, took out his id card, and started shouting, "he is a basiji member, he is one of them!" they couldn't give him to the police, they believe, because, first of all, they would expose themselves, which was extremely dangerous that day. and also they didn't believe that the police wouldn't do anything to him, because the basij is very powerful, and he would have easily have got away. so, all of a sudden, in the chaos, they decided to release him. >> narrator: this id card, confirmed by dr. hejazi as the basiji at the scene, was later released onto the internet. it identifies him as a basiji with a three-day license to operate in tehran from the revolutionary guard. his name and phone number were published, too. the number has since been disconnected.
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>> when my father opened the door and saw me full of blood, he thought something had happened to me, and he was scared. i answered with short sentences without explaining much. then they turned on the tv, and it was cnn, and we saw that the film was showing there with me in it. >> this is disturbing. i want everyone to know that. but we have blurred out her face, out of respect. but this is possibly the most seen piece of video out of iran in the world today. >> at the same time, i realize that, okay, i'm there, my face is evident. this gives me some leverage that i can testify for this incident someday. >> narrator: it would take just a few hours for neda's video to
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spread across the world, and a few days more before it helped transform world opinion. >> you've seen this video. what's your reaction? >> it's heartbreaking. it's... it's heartbreaking. and i think that anybody who sees it knows that there's something fundamentally unjust about that. >> narrator: the iranian government admits 11 protestors were killed on june 20. but doctors from three tehran hospitals confirmed at least 34. other bodies were buried by security forces before they could be identified. neda was buried without ceremony. when they tried to hold a memorial, neda's sister told us that the authorities prevented them. >> ( translated ) we were not allowed to hold a wake in her memory. we weren't allowed to put up a notice on the local board to announce her death.
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none of the mosques would take us, none of the halls or restaurants would give us a place to hold a ceremony in neda's memory. they wouldn't let us. >> narrator: neda's boyfriend, caspian makan, was distraught and angry. he decided to speak out to satellite tv stations overseas. >> ( translated ) how did you find out about the death of neda? >> ( translated ) my phone rang and the screen said, "neda." i was expecting to hear her voice, but it was her sister saying she'd left us. she was targeted deliberately,
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even though you can clearly see she didn't have a stone in her hand. i don't know what the iranian authorities have to say about this. do they have anything to say about this? >> narrator: not long after, caspian called his friend delbar. >> ( translated ) i saw his number and answered it. he sounded very hushed. it was obvious he had his hand next to the speaker so the others wouldn't hear. he told me in a whisper, "they are by my house. they have come to get me." >> narrator: caspian was taken to evin prison, although the authorities didn't confirm his arrest for six weeks. >> ( translated ) i have not heard what precisely they have stated as the reason for his arrest, but from what i have
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read myself in the news, they are accusing him of somehow being involved in the murder, and this is just not the case. >> narrator: the regime tried to repair the damage done to its reputation and contain the sympathy for neda and the protestors. >> ( translated ) about this woman who was killed, and obama, who sheds crocodile tears for her and the west makes a star out of her, any wise person who sees this film would understand this was done by rioters and protestors. >> narrator: fars news blamed a bbc correspondent, saying he'd staged the death for a documentary. then, they said neda was still alive and living in greece. >> ( translated ) in this
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report, we are trying to study neda agha soltan's death from a different angle. >> narrator: in this state television documentary, witnesses were identified and marched back to the scene of the murder. here, neda's music teacher was made to conform his story to the official version. >> narrator: it was now up to the other key witness who had seen the basiji at the scene to speak. >> every life, a moment comes that the integrity of some person would be tested, and i realized on that day this was the moment in my life that i had to choose whether to keep myself safe or prove my integrity.
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>> pictures of the death of neda soltan have appalled people around the world. the man who tried to save her has been talking about what happened. >> narrator: dr hejazi flew to the u.k. and went public. >> her blood was draining out of her body, and i was just putting pressure on the wounds to try to stop the bleeding. >> narrator: he remains the key eyewitness on the record, for which he's paid a high price. >> i cannot go back to iran. i know that i have received threats here, even here, anonymous threats, which concern me a little bit about my personal security and safety. and that's just because i talked. i never knew i've worked in literature all of my life, and i always talked about and preached about the power of words, but i never realized how powerful words can be.
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>> narrator: since the summer, iran's authorities have restored an appearance of normality, with the strictest controls. through the fall, they televised show trials where reformist supporters were made to recant. ( wailing ) >> narrator: then, in october, the regime tried to script the end of neda's story but, instead, neda's mother made a very public stand. ( wailing ) the government offered her financial help if she would blame neda's death on opponents of the regime. all she had to do was to agree to call neda a "martyr" for the
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islamic republic, but she refused. >> ( translated ) neda died for her country, not so i could get a monthly income from the martyr foundation. if these officials say neda was a martyr, why do they keep wiping off the word martyr, which people write in red on her gravestone? >> narrator: like others in this film, delbar tavakoli now lives in exile. she landed in turkey, the place where neda and boyfriend caspian makan had met for the first time. >> ( translated ) that was where they had gotten emotionally involved. but less than a year on, with all the dreams they'd had, one of them is dead, another is in prison, and i'm here for my part in trying to get the real story out.
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>> ( translated ) neda loved travelling. and she traveled a lot, as much as she could, anyway. but most of all, she loved turkey. she loved istanbul and she wanted to live there at some point. neda always said she would leave iran if she had only one day left of her life. >> narrator: caspian was kept in evin prison for 65 days, then put under house arrest through the fall, until just recently, when he escaped and fled over the turkish border. he spoke to us from hiding. >> ( translated ) when i was leaving, i was taking in everything in tehran. it was full of people who are so weighed down. it was hard to leave the place where i have lived all my life.
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i am 38-years-old. i love iran, i always will love iran. it was worse because i was about to leave neda's resting place. i couldn't accept neda's death. i can't accept it now. i'm waiting until i see her again.
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>> and now, a frontline world special report. in an era of global fears about pandemics like hiv and h1n1, we go to the hot zone in uganda and bring you a story of dangerous virus that can jump back and forth between humans and the great apes. >> narrator: in the lush mountains of western uganda, tourists come to these dense forests in search of rare and exotic animals. what they don't anticipate is to come in contact with some of the world's rarest diseases. that's what happened to an american tourist recently who
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came down with a mysterious and deadly disease after visiting this cave known for its bats. >> we're still not exactly sure how she acquired the infection. so we know that she did enter into the mouth of the cave, but didn't go very deep into the cave. >> narrator: a team from the centers for disease control found that she'd contracted marburg virus, a hemorrhagic fever that causes extensive internal bleeding. hers was the first case to reach the u.s. >> she would have had to put her hands down. you can imagine, it's hot and sweaty. you know, you brush your face to... to, you know, push your hair back or something. there's ways that you can get the virus onto your mucous membranes. you can get very efficient virus infection. we've slowly pieced together that marburg, this nasty hemorrhagic disease, they're getting it from the bat reservoir. >> narrator: during the same
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period, another outbreak of hemorrhagic fever was devastating a remote village in the same region. it was discovered to be a new strain of the ebola virus, which scientists believe was transmitted to humans who ate infected bush meat. >> narrator: for public health experts, the ebola and marburg cases in uganda were chilling examples of just how dangerous animal diseases could be to humans. >> one of the common factors that links these emerging and new infectious diseases is that all of them actually started with an animal somewhere. so what we call these diseases is zoonotic diseases, diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans. >> narrator: uganda lies at the frontlines for diseases that cross the species barrier; plague, ebola, anthrax, tuberculosis, and hiv all are
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endemic here. the cdc has made uganda a special focus for its work. >> uganda is also a really good example of a hotspot for where these diseases arise. infections due to animals represent 75% of all the emerging infectious diseases, and so if you're really going to tackle these diseases, you can't just focus on people. you need to focus on the animals, you need to focus on the environment and that interface where those come together to decrease infectious diseases worldwide. >> narrator: the bwindi impenetrable forest lies on uganda's southern border. it's home to half of the world's remaining population of mountain gorillas. we're headed into the forest to track a new gorilla family with dr. gladys kalema-zikusoka. she's been studying diseases in the gorillas for 15 years, and is known as the diane fossey of uganda. >> this is where they nested. >> yes. >> over here? i think what's so special about
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the great apes is that they're so similar to us. we share over 98% genetic material, both with gorillas and chimpanzees. and it means that we can learn a lot about ourselves by studying them. when you go to visit them in the wild, you actually feel like you're connecting. they look at you, you look at them, and there's some kind of connection. it's actually very therapeutic watching them. and the infant gorillas are very playful, just like humans; like, when i see them playing, i think of my two children. ( laughs ) >> narrator: gladys became uganda's chief veterinarian when she was 26. >> i've always loved animals, ever since i was little. and then, at the age of 12, i


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